The December Water Funding Task Force news release should be alarming for most Nebraska citizens, especially those living in urban areas.The release emphasizes the need for funding, to the tune of $50 million per year, for unspecified water projects deemed necessary by the Water Funding Task Force.
The 34-member task force, many appointed by the governor and most directly connected to agriculture, recommends a mix of taxes to cover the $50 million, none of which appear to be directed at irrigation, which is responsible for in excess of 90% of water consumption in our state.
And that is while our constitution says our water is a public resource.
The decision as to where the funding should come from should be a very easy one.
We have about 8 million privately owned and irrigated acres here in our state of Nebraska. A fee of $10 per irrigated acre would raise about $80 million annually. That is about one thousandth of the market value of each irrigated acre.
This is a case where “the cost causer should be the cost payer.”
It is the right thing to do. Getting public tax money from sales tax, sand and gravel, soft drinks, bottled water, commercial and residential fertilizer, or ethanol, is simply not right.
By Ted Thieman, Petersburg, Nebraska